Riding into Philadelphia was quite the experience. As Ale and I ran into a couple of roadblocks with construction, we got a bit turned around. We ended up taking a road that gave us a nice tour of Philly’s racially and financially segregated neighborhoods. The road literally led us from mostly white middle class neighborhoods to Latin American communities with Spanish signs everywhere, and then all of a sudden we are in the ghetto. The whole experience of riding into Philly felt like I was living in the documentary I watched freshmen year in my urban studies class. Let me tell you something: it is one thing to learn about racial and financial segregation in cities from a video, but it is a whole different ball game when you are pedaling through the city at 8 mph.
It was fascinating to take note of how the Philly residents reacted to Ale and me. In some areas we rode by unnoticed, in other areas, people literally did 180 degree rotations to watch us for as long as possible. At one red light in a predominantly black neighborhood, a nice man with a few missing teeth about to cross the street asked if I was lost, because I didn’t look like I belonged. I just smiled and told him, “no I’m not lost, just going on a bike ride.” He looked at me like I was a crazy that had recently escaped the insane asylum and told me to be careful. A couple blocks before this, a talkative blond man in a business suit had started up a conversation at a stoplight and within seconds of meeting us had his smart phone out and immediately uploaded a picture of Ale and I on his facebook page. what
Anyways, we eventually made it into Sam (Kelsey Lloyd (one of our favorites from the field hockey team)’s sister)’s neighborhood and stopped to have a hot drink and discuss the craziness we just rode through. I told Ale I secretly wished I had gopro’ed the whole ride and she said we would have been shot, so she was glad I resisted the urge. We then biked the remaining half mile to Sam’s place and were so happy to see a familiar face.
Sam is awesome! She is currently working as a lawyer in Philly and is just a smart, funny, loyal, loving person, so I was very happy to be spending time getting to know her better. Sam also has a beautiful apartment which was a huge bonus. I was very impressed by her place and since her roommate was gone for the night, Ale and I even got a bed to sleep in. It was wonderful! Before we went to bed however, we went to a delicious dinner and then to a Med School frat party. It was hilarious to see how little changed from undergrad to med school partying. There were awkward drunk conversations going on everywhere, bathroom lines 15 people long and I got an entire red cup full of cheap beer spilt all over me within minutes of arriving; I felt like I was back in college.
There was one significant difference with the med school party that I noticed later on that night. When one beyond belligerent guy wondered into the kitchen, he was immediately surrounded by 5 soon-to-be-doctors showering him with questions and instructions. They gave him water and made sure he sipped it slowly to prevent vomiting. They repeatedly asked him questions to make sure he stayed conscious and helped him get into and out of his chair. It was pretty cute to watch and I decided that all of these med school students would make great doctors, even though they were not the best dancers.
The next morning, Ale and I hopped in the car and Sam drove us to Shavertown, PA, Kelsey and Sam’s hometown. We were greeted by the Lloyd parents and were so happy to see them. Their house was absolutely gorgeous with a beautiful yard to match. Susan and Tim Lloyd are wonderful people and we had so much fun with them. I was blown away that I had spent the last couple years having brief conversations with the Lloyds after our games, but I had never really gotten to know them that well. They are hilarious, real, down to earth, loving parents and I was so grateful that I got to know them better.
Susan fixed us amazing meal after meal (favorite food item = pumpkin pancakes), and it was so nice to be around a family dining table again. The Lloyds just have a very warm home and all of them have a great sense of humor, so I was extremely happy to be hanging out with them for a couple of days. AND Ale and I each got our own room with a bathroom (with shower) and towels and even some of Sam’s “normal people” clothing (jeans). It was amazing!
On Sunday morning Susan, Ale, Sam and I drove to the University of Connecticut to see the field hockey game against Stanford. I underestimated the drive big time. Susan drove for 3.5 hours, while we talked and sang along to Pink’s new album. We stopped at Starbucks before the game, and I got my favorite (soy no water chai). Caffeine was probably not the best idea for me since I already had enough adrenaline and excitement at the thought of seeing everyone. I was so excited to see the team and to watch them play, but was also weirdly nervous for the team, and the caffeine just magnified all of my emotions.
It was fun to sit with the parents and catch up briefly during the game, but it was also pretty sad to hear how the team dynamics have changed over the last couple of years. It made me so so so grateful for the teammates I played with and the friendships that our team created. I couldn’t imagine my college experience without my teammates, so it was very upsetting to hear about the internal team drama.
After the game Ale and I went down and said hi to everyone, and we gave hugs and spoke briefly, before the team headed off to the locker room. We then talked to the coaches (who had all had bets on whether or not we would make it out of California) and it was fun to catch up and laugh about our adventure with them.
After the tailgate, which consisted of wonderful food and more bonding time with younger teammates, we piled into the car and headed back to the Lloyds. Again, we sang along to Pink, and talked about the field hockey game and then life stuff. When we got home, Tim had dinner ready and waiting. We had delicious pizza and then talked for a while longer, before heading back to Philly with Sam. It was so enjoyable to get to know the Lloyds better and connect with them on a level that I didn’t ever think was possible. I was so grateful for the opportunity to stay with them and be a part of their family for a few days. Thank you thank you Lloyds!